‘Who are you!’ Strangers were looking for my ex. Suddenly, I felt intense pain in my pregnant stomach. I’d been shot.’ Woman loses baby to gunshot wound in robbery, ‘I spent 8 beautiful days on Earth with her’

“I worked as an assistant manager at Taco Bell in October or November of last year, 2018.” I was 21 years old, single, and had never been in a relationship. I had been in a toxic relationship for several months, so once I could separate myself from it, I took some time to rediscover myself and fall in love with myself again.

During my time alone, I met someone with whom I instantly clicked, but I opted not to make things official due to my prior relationship. We’d had so much fun together. Mostly lots of love and laughter, just being ourselves and crazy together. My ideas became more robust as my affections for him grew more assertive.

After a few months, I decided to cut him off totally. After a few weeks, I realised I had missed my period. I waited a couple of weeks longer. There isn’t one. On January 4, 2019, I caved in and took a pregnancy test as my mother was on FaceTime, anxious to learn the results. After a few seconds, the effect was…positive. I chose to take another one. The word ‘positive’ came up again right away. My mother was thrilled. I started crying. I hadn’t been living as healthily as I could have, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks when I realised I was expecting a child…

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

It was the first time I had ever been pregnant. I was utterly overwhelmed by my feelings and ideas. I was curious about who my daughter might become when I initially learned I was expecting a girl. I hoped and prayed that she would be healthy and that I would be able to provide a wonderful life for her. I was ecstatic to become a mother! I had a deep faith and believed that God had brought her to me to save me and give me a purpose: to love and nurture this child.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

On July 20, 2019, I organised and shifted things around in my flat in preparation for her arrival. I booted myself out of my apartment’s only bedroom and turned it into a living room so I could put all of her items in there, albeit they still spilt into the living room and dining room. My mother and I were ecstatic to have Emery, and my mother made sure she had everything she needed. I was surprised to hear a knock at the front door; I looked around the balconies and peephole but saw no one.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

I was still searching through baby stuff in the bedroom a few minutes later when I heard the front door kick open. I remained in the room, startled and perplexed until I heard a man’s voice inquiring where I was. I crept out of the room, only to confront a woman wielding a knife. I screamed and pleaded with her not to knife me as she immediately grasped my hand. ‘I’m expecting!’ Now that I was out of the room, I had a better view of what was going on.

A man stood in the living room with a gun to my ex-boyfriend’s head. (At the time, Emery’s father was in rehab.) These were strangers to us. We inquired as to who they were and what they desired. They were looking for someone who was having issues with my ex-boyfriend. I pleaded with them to leave us alone, explaining that they were in MY HOME and that I had nothing to do with whatsoever they were doing. They angrily took our phones, car keys, cards, and items in my purse after being warned to quiet screaming and stop moving and threatened with being shot and stabbed. It contained all of the money I had put aside for emergencies and Emery. They also took an Xbox.

I yelled for my ex-boyfriend to follow them out the door as they started running. I took a knife and chased him down. I started crying for help as soon as I got outside the apartment, claiming that two persons had broken into my apartment with a knife and a gun and were stealing my belongings… Crickets! As I raced to him, my ex was battling for his possessions. I hear a gunshot and immediately feel an acute pain in my stomach. I was aware that I had been shot.

I did everything to stop the bleeding, but the agony was so excruciating that I had to sit down. I couldn’t bear walking. Soon after, neighbours crowded the walkways, and I yelled for assistance. I had been shot while pregnant. EMS and APD were dispatched. Meanwhile, the suspects jumped into a car and drove off towards the locked entrance gate. They turned around and walked back down the street towards me. Fortunately, a neighbour pushed me off the pavement,

and another rushed to get a towel to help with the bleeding. EMS arrived shortly after and brought me to the hospital. Emery had stopped moving in my presence.

I pleaded with them to save and assist my baby. They tried but failed to detect the heartbeat during the EMS ride. Then he requested anaesthesia. I was being taken into the emergency department with all eyes on me the last time I recall. I knew it was severe, but I had no idea how serious it was. I was informed that I had been shot twice when I became more conscious of my surroundings. Once in my left breast and once on my abdomen’s left side. The bullet entered my lower right abdomen and struck some organs, causing severe bleeding. My uterus and intestines had been shot. Emery was born via emergency c-section due to blood loss. However, he had to be renewed.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola
Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

They transported her to a different hospital once she got a heartbeat, but she was shortly confirmed to be absolutely brain dead. I had intestinal surgery and had 47 staples in my stomach.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

The physicians and nurses at both hospitals were terrific, and my family and Emery’s father and family were there every days to support us. It was a trying period for all of us. Nobody was contacted until the following morning, July 21st. Everyone was frantic, worried, and upset to learn what had happened to me and how badly Emery had been harmed. We could FaceTime, which kept my want to see Emery every day alive.

She was utterly immobile when I first saw her, unable to open her eyes, cry, or even breathe independently. She was put on life support to help her get more robust, but she wasn’t doing so well. She was suffering a lot of seizures the first night she arrived at the new hospital, and they felt there was no way she could survive or accomplish anything on her own. I requested Emery’s baptism while I was in the hospital. They didn’t think she’d make it through the night. The ceremony was lovely. Before I went to bed that night, I prayed for a miracle and for God to give her and me the strength to get through the night, which we did.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola
Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

I continued to struggle for release and the opportunity to be with Emery a few days following my operation. She was also fighting. My baby daughter was brave and persevered until Mommy could be with her again. I can’t convey how happy I was to be released from the hospital and reunited with my newborn child. I praised God and continue to thank God every day for enabling myself and my family to have her during the days she was with us on Earth.

The doctors didn’t think she’d make it through another night, but she did! ‘Her brain stem is dead,’ the doctors told me when I arrived at her hospital. She will not be able to breathe on her own. Crying, crawling, eating, walking, reading, and writing ‘She can do anything by herself.’ They reminded me of this every day I spent with her. She couldn’t perform any of this without the help of machines. They expressed that at that point:

‘Ultimately, the decision is yours. She’ll be put to rest when you eventually declare enough is enough.’

Knowing she was suffering and that I would never be able to help her or make her better had already torn my heart into a million pieces. My heart had been shattered. I was puzzled, offended, and enraged. I didn’t think it was fair for me to make such a difficult decision to let her go after fighting so hard. She worked tirelessly to bring us back together.

I was told how the procedure would work once I decided, but I was adamant. I wanted to do things with her that I would have done with her if she hadn’t gone insane. I signed a form for DNR one night, but that was the extent of their involvement with me. I was fixated on being able to spend time with her, just as my family had been allowed to do when I was recovering in the hospital. I appreciated the nurses because they were very caring and understanding, allowing me to stay in the hospital as long as I wanted to be with her. I adored touch times and made it a point never to miss one. I bathe her, change her diaper, take her temperature, and weigh her at those times. After thinking about it and speaking with a few more doctors, I recognised they were correct. I wanted to retain her, but this wasn’t the life I intended for her… Mommy would have been delighted to look after their daughter, even if she was 13 and unable to care for herself due to tubes. However, something one doctor said remained with me: this is a love decision.

My love for her was so great and profound that, as much as it hurt not to have her and see her with all the tubes and unmoving was heartbreaking, I knew I had to let her go and be free rather than continue to suffer. Every day and night, I prayed to God for strength, guidance, and forgiveness and for him to keep an eye on my darling girl.

On July 28th, we decided it was time to prioritise our love for her over anything else we were feeling or seeking. I gave the doctor permission to remove the tubes from her. I could have anybody I wanted with me and hold her in my arms the entire time. Her father and I and our parents were present when the tubes were first removed. They informed us that because her body was becoming used to the machine, she might be able to breathe for a few days after the tubes were removed. I repeatedly prayed for her to be able to live on her own for a short period so that we could all see her without her tubes. She continued to breathe after the lines were removed! It’s a miracle. What a long way my baby had come from that first night when no hope seemed to exist.

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I invited the rest of the family into the room so that we could all love and support her, watch her battle, and see her without the tubes…

I continued to hold her during each breath she took. You could tell she was fighting as she took on more tasks independently. But she’d already put up a lengthy and courageous fight.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola
Courtesy of Desire Guardiola
Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

For 30 minutes, she was breathing on her own. Many thoughts and feelings flooded our minds. We desperately wanted to put her back on the machine, but once you decide, you make it. That day, she died quietly in my arms, surrounded by the love and support of her close family. It appeared as if she died sweetly while sleeping, and her body began to fade to purple. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I never imagined being separated from my child before her due date. I never imagined I’d have to go through such pain or loss.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

I wanted to bury her to carry her with me wherever I went. However, we were told that the medical examiner would have to keep her body. We’d have to wait up to 6 months to get it returned for funerals and cremation. I was heartbroken. My world seemed to be crumbling all around me. Thankfully, my family and her father’s family were both supportive. They supported us throughout the process and continue to do so. My mother and grandma assisted in planning the funeral, which was beautiful and heartbreaking. I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve become closer to Emery’s father’s family throughout it all. Although we lament having to get closer due to tragedy, we have been fortunate to have each other’s love and support to help us grieve and move forward in our daily lives.

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola
Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

As I began to read Through the Eyes of a Lion, the book I was given, I began to see life from a different perspective. I used to be furious, agitated, and perplexed. I had doubts about my beliefs. I’ve learned and accepted that God has a plan for everything as I continue to live each day and advance further into this book. The devil, not God, was responsible for the tragedy and evil that befell me.

I’ve also attended grieving and loss counselling sessions, which have helped me cope. I was able to do things with my kid that the doctors never imagined because of my faith in Him. He encircled my daughter in his love and kindness. Now that she is in His hands, I’d like to picture her flying around with Him, sending love and joy to others who live with them, including my grandfather, who died in February of this year. When he died, I was utterly devastated. But now, I can rest assured that she is not alone and that her spirit is with him and our Lord.

I’ve spoken to so many women online about my horrible life experiences. It’s been wonderful to be surrounded by folks from all around the world who believe and have hearts that still love and support strangers! I will be eternally grateful for that. When I initially lost Emery, I struggled with depression. Because of the sorrow I felt in my heart for only wanting to be with her, I believed I’d fall into that lousy thinking indefinitely and finally join her. However, as a devout Christian with my family’s backing, I recognised it wasn’t the solution. It would cause more suffering to those around me than anything else. So I turned back to God.

This experience has undoubtedly contributed to developing my faith and strengthening my relationship with God. Some people ask how I can still thank and worship Him after all of this. ‘Where was your God when this happened???!!!’ some people wonder. Even the devil’s plot is known to God, who is all-knowing. His role isn’t always to stop you or keep you safe but to help you get out of trouble. To shower you with love and provide you with the strength you didn’t have before.

I came to visit with my mother and her boyfriend in California to heal and get away from everything for a time after having my staples removed. I’ve been able to pursue more grief and loss treatment, which has greatly aided me in this healing journey. I’m still in counselling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. I am very grateful for the kindness and support I have received since it has helped me get through this sorrow.”

Courtesy of Desire Guardiola

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